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Trial by djdubois

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Merlin (this version anyway) belongs to the BBC and Scyfy. Ywain and Malodius are from Chretien de Troyes' Yvain. Britomart is from Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene.

Looks like we have another character with telepathic connections. ....
[A Few Hours After the End of “Keepsakes Lost””Six Miles from Camelot]


Feeling safe and relaxed under Nocturne’s starry darkness overhead, the delegation recharged its batteries for the next day. Most of the party slept on their bedding or in a tent. Those knights on guard duty played at lots around the campfire. A few sentries walked the periphery; their eyes peeled for potential threats.

Pity that such things would come from within…..



****



A cloaked figure peered around the left side of Mithian’s tent. Green eyes peered from the dark hood scanning the surrounding area. After ascertaining that the coast was indeed clear, the prowler stole away from the camp and into the woods beyond. A gloved left hand rested on the hilt of a sword hanging from the belt. Boots crept through dew dampened grass trying not to make a sound.

Behind the prowler’s billowing cloak, the fire grew smaller and dimmer until they seemed as fireflies hovering in the darkness.

The figure rushed through the first stand of trees to find a white and brown splotched horse tethered to a tree. A right hand patted the pouch on that side of the belt. Gloved fingers touched the folded parchment therein. Hair on the back of the prowler’s neck rose. Anxiety ate at said-person’s stomach.

The horse whinnied fearfully. His eyes darted this way and that. His ears perked.

The figure patted the horse’s flank to try and calm him. The last thing that should happen was to be bucked out of the saddle. The business at hand was too urgent for such accidents to occur.

At that moment, a deep growl ripped through the stillness.

The horse trembled and reared. It tugged against the tethering reins around the tree.

“Now what?” a male voice groused under the hood. His hand slowly slid the sword from its scabbard. He turned toward the source with deliberate motions. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”

At that moment, the slight clouds parted allowing Luna to stream her light into the area. The pale light illuminated the ground clutter not to mention the prowler’s surroundings.

A lion stalked into view tersely. His golden coat glittered in the light and faerie dust floating therein. His tan mane billowed ever so slightly in the breeze. His emerald eyes glowered menacingly at the skulking stalker. He moved to block the dirt trail.

The hooded man rolled his eyes. He waved his sword at his adversary. “Filthy beast! Perhaps Sir Ywain tolerates you but I won’t!” He swung the blade at the lion intent on killing him.

The lion sidestepped the glinting sword’s swipe. With a half-hearted motion, his right forepaw batted the intruder into a nearby tree and unconscious. He sniffed disdainfully. Then he lifted his head and roared loudly alerting the nearby camp to the threat at hand. He’d known of threats outside of the camp. He’d felt magic emanating from Camelot. Still he never imagined a traitor among this group surrounding Princess Mithian. He growled distastefully at the man’s prone form. Having just spent the night on guard duty, he was in no mood for such antics or mischief of any kind for that matter.

How predictable you are, Malodius, a voice assessed telepathically.

Malodius snarled. Now it was his turn to look this way and that. Despite being a creature of magic, he’d learned to distrust sorcerers and others like himself. He’d seen too many threats to Nemeth from those people. Consequently his loyalties lay with King Rodor and Princess Mithian. His friendship with Ywain came from their shared duty to their monarchs.

A heartbeat or three later, Memoria identified the speaker to him. He recalled the beast’s assault on Whitgate and much later on Camelot with fire and menacing tail. On the former occasion a quarter century earlier, he’d driven said beast back from Whitgate’s walls with a few burns. He’d felt another sorcerer doing the same nearby but didn’t know who that would be. The emerald eyes narrowed as he struggled with his own telepathic response. YOU? You will not threaten the Princess!

Threaten you. Great One? I think not
, the voice assured him. I come with word about the situation. Look skyward for my approach.

Malodius
searched the skies overhead cautiously. His eyes found nothing of note in the starry expanses between the patchwork clouds. Still his ears detected a particular sound. They discerned the slapping of wings against the wind. He snarled still suspecting a trick of some sort.

Through the clouds, Kilgarrah descended toward the other. He alighted on the ground with as little impact as possible. Concern weighed down on his sensibilities. He had little time to waste on placating the magical lion. Still he and Merlin needed allies. He bowed reverently. As I said, I come with word. We need to benefit our common friends, Malodius.

And what would THAT be? Malodius
snapped. The last we crossed paths, you scorched the ground around my city! What could we have in common?

Kilgarrah bit back his sarcasm and venom. Why the threat to our common allies of course. Your Princess and my brother.

Your brother? Malodius
narrowed his eyes. There are more of you? I was led to believe that you were the last dragon.

If Uther Pendragon had his way, I would have been. Another white dragon flies but I know not where
, Kilgarrah exhaled allowing Consternation’s puffs of smoke to billow in short bursts from his snout. My brother is a dragon lord. You remember Balinor?

The lion stared at the Great Dragon. Balinor’s been dead for decades. You’ll have to do better than that, Dragon.

I would’ve thought such a majestic servant such as yourself would put the needs of his kingdom ahead of personal malice, Malodius. In addition there is the matter of the life debt you still owe to Balinor. Is there not?
Kilgarrah lectured the other creature.

I have a good mind for old accounts! Malodius protested. He recalled being separated from the Nemethians following the Battle of Old Oak thirty years earlier. For days and weeks, he’d wandered through the marshes north of the old Roman wall. Hunger had torn at his stomach. Exhaustion had sapped his strength. Just when all seemed lost, he stumbled across Balinor. He’d received the kindly man’s attention and healing skill. Then he’d received a ride toward Nemeth being returned to the woods outside of Whitgate with kindest regards.

So you do remember. That is good. You and I both suffered during the Great Purge. For our kind, it is a time of emergence. For Balinor’s son, it is his time as well, Kilgarrah surmised.

Balinor had a son? Then where is he? Why does he not command you? Certainly someone needs to do so, Malodius retorted snarkily.

Where is your companion? Look to your own affairs and I shall do the same, Kilgarrah snarked back without missing a beat. The boy is in Camelot. In fact, he has already met your Princess. They have made quite the impression on each other. He rolled his eyes.

Malodius growled at the other’s lack of respect. Have respect for Princess Mithian. She carries herself commendably after her last ordeal here! Disdain provoked a sniff from his own snout. They rejected her for some peasant.

And yet two did not adhere to protocol
, Kilgarrah corrected him. Certainly you heard about that as well. Your Princess implored Balinor’s son for friendship. He granted her as much.

This son met Princess Mithian? Malodius
peered back toward the camp. He’d expected the other knights to have arrived on the scene by now. Still he benefited from their lack of speed in that regard. I heard of the servant who defied his king to show her compassion. He saved her from the boar and returned our kingdom’s treasure without the request for a reward. And…. Disbelief startled him. The servant? HE IS THE ONE?

Your word on the life debt and whatever binds you, Great One,
Kilgarrah pressed.

It is given. The boy? He is truly Balinor’s heir? Malodius queried wanting more information.

He is. However he was discovered. For his deed, Merlin was imprisoned. He is to be tried this morning. I cannot intervene. Perhaps you would guide your Princess and the knights to his cause? Great evil threatens the Once and Future King. Merlin must remain allied to him even if they aren’t at the same court, Kilgarrah pointed out. Then he heard noises from the woods. Your companions are almost upon us. We shall speak again. Still I must ask for your aid where Merlin is concerned.

We owe him greatly, Dragon. Princess Mithian will not stand for such injustice especially for a friend. The fact that he is Balinor’s son makes it doubly so for me,
Malodius agreed. I do this for him and my Princess. I thank you. Still I cannot forget the past.

It seems we all have a great deal to accomplish in that regard. Remember you promised to keep his secret,
Kilgarrah concluded before flying off and disappearing into the clouds above.

Malodius watched the Great Dragon as long as he could. His mind spun with all sorts of questions. Of course, he’d overheard the stories back at the Nemethian court. He’d pondered the knights’ accounts on the ride over. Furthermore, he’d sensed magical residue on Mithian after her return. He felt the same energies around the damaged tree, the fallen branch and in a source to the east….

…a source from within Camelot itself….

The Dragon holds certain truths back, does he? Balinor’s son has strong magic. Yes he would be a useful friend. Merlin would be like a brother to me should the Fates allow.

The hooded interloper groaned and stirred. He shook his arms and tried to reach for his fallen sword.

Malodius roared again. He stomped on the man’s cloak effectively pinning him to the spot. His eyes sparked menacingly in the moonlight.

“UNHAND ME, YOU BEAST!” the intruder snapped.

At that moment, Ywain and Galahad rushed onto the scene. Each had their swords raised and ready to meet any foe in battle.

“Ho, Malodius! What is the threat? Where’s the battle?” Ywain looked about the area once more.

“There is no confusion, Ywain! Get this thing off of me!” the intruder complained. “I have business!”

Galahad pulled the man’s hood down and frowned. “And what business is that, Sir Samuel? There are orders not to leave camp until after first light. What is the nature of the emergency?”

“There’s news for Camelot. I must…” Samuel hedged.

“And what news is that pray tell?” Ywain insisted. “What is it that you tell them that Princess Mithian cannot hear first? Your first loyalty is to her and King Rodor not to King Arthur or anyone at his court!”

“You are no one to question me!” Samuel protested. He tried to go for his sword again.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Galahad suggested pointedly. He snatched the other’s sword off of the ground. “Ywain, search him. Let’s see what he had for King Arthur and the others. Perhaps he is a spy.”

“Stay still, Sir Samuel. If you try anything, Malodius might hurt you,” Ywain advised. He opened the pouch and discovered the folded parchment. “And what is this?”

“Don’t! That’s….” Samuel started to protest. Anxiety spasmed through his limbs.

Ywain unfolded the missive and read it. His eyes went wide. “Bloody blazes!”

“Ywain, what is it?” Galahad stared at his fellow interrogator.

“Read it.” Ywain handed the parchment to his commander. Then he stepped back and to Malodius’ left. “Read it and see his worth!”

Galahad did so to find:


“My lord,

Forgive my delivering this in person rather than our other means. Rodor and Mithian have decided to send her back to Camelot as an ambassador. Still unable to get necklace. Thanks to Merlin, your plans are in danger. Perhaps you might finally rid yourself of him?

Wish to speak with you further if this is suitable to your Grace. I show my loyalty. Remember your promise.

Verily so.

Samuel
Knight of Nemeth”



Galahad ground his teeth. He crushed the parchment in his grasp. Anger and Indignation flared in his heart. Reflex guided his hand to his sword’s handle. He squeezed it before willing his hand to let go. “Sir Samuel, you aren’t going anywhere but back to camp. You will answer for this!” He exhaled sharply and drew his sword. “Move.”

Ywain undid the anxious horse’s tether and led him away from the area.

“An infernal mess this is! As if the Princess’ rejection wasn’t enough?” Galahad turned to Malodius. “My thanks for catching him. Once more, you have done us a good turn.” He offered the lion a curt nod out of respect. Then he urged Samuel onward with the point of his sword. “Move, Sir Samuel. We’ll let Princess Mithian deal with you.”

Malodius narrowed his eyes. Treachery indeed is afoot in that court. No wonder the Dragon came to me for help. The boy is in peril. He set his purpose and followed the others back toward the camp.
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